FEW villages can boast of having their very own weatherman. But Ashington has just that. When Stuart Gast of The Sands, is not in the air tending to passenger needs as a member of an airline’s cabin crew, he is keeping an eye on a complex set of weather-monitoring equipment at home.
By monitoring rainfall levels, he is able to tip off residents in the Mill Lane area of the village, which is prone to heavy flooding, when they need to get their sandbags out.
His interest in weather predictions stems back to his childhood when he was fascinated by a barograph which his aunt used to have, and he learned how to monitor pressure changes over a week.
Stuart became so interested in weather patterns and forecasting that in 2006 he set up a weather station with complex computer equipment inside his home, plus an outdoor station with an anemometer, rain station, temperature gauge and solar sensors. It produces information in table form as well as on the live screen.
Rain fills up a little bucket in the mini station, which tips out and measures the millimetres of rain.
“My computer system sits and runs itself and all the information from equipment in my garden feeds into it. It takes in information about wind speed, temperature, pressures and also takes into account humidity, maximum and minimum rainfall, solar radiation UV index and the amount of sunshine levels.
“My personal wish list is to get more sophisticated equipment which I could place higher, on my roof, and make more accurate forecasts.”
He has enough data from his current weather station to formulate wind charts and other patterns but says he still has to give an educated is guess on some factors. His aim is to get the extra equipment that will enable him to give a full and accurate seven-day weather forecast for Ashington.
As it is, he can pinpoint many things- for instance his weather station is capable of picking up lightning 750 miles away. He monitors wind chill factors and has a heat index, showing averages and extremes and is able to show what is happening now and has detailed records going gack to 2006y.
“The South Downs produces its own micro climate this can bring localised changes to the general weather pattern. But I try and judge it from the information I have here,” he added.
He has also started his own website at www.ashingtonwx.co.uk for general interest only, with information shown not to be used for making safety-based decisions.The Ashington Weather home page has generated a growing interest locally and live weather is updated every five seconds, giving a 12/24 hour local forecast.
“There are a lot of regular visitors. Schools have used it for projects and local residents sometimes email me about it,” he said.